Animal TB Research Group
Tina Meiring completed her BSc in Human Life Sciences and honours in genetics at Stellenbosch University. She joined the Animal TB group in 2018 and started her MSc which focused on investigating the genomic diversity in the endangered African wild dog. She upgraded her MSc to a PhD in 2019 and continued to investigate the genomic variation in 71 wild dogs from the Kruger National Park, using whole-genome sequencing. She also investigated whether low genome variation increases genetic susceptibility to M. bovis infection in this species. She completed her PhD in 2021.
Jana van Heerden completed a BSc in Human Life Sciences at Stellenbosch University majoring in Physiology and Genetics. She joined the Animal TB Research Group in 2021, as a BSc Hons student in the Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics. Her research project focussed on the detection of Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV) in African Elephants in the Kruger National Park.
Josephine Chileshe did her MSc in Veterinary Science at the University of Pretoria. She then worked as a lab manager at a diagnostic veterinary laboratory in Zambia before starting her PhD in the Animal TB group. Her project aimed to identify biomarkers and develop diagnostic tests for Mycobacterium bovis infection in African rhinoceros and she graduated in March 2021.
Candice de Waal majored in Biochemistry and Genetics for her BSc at Stellenbosch University. She then completed her BSc honours with the Animal TB group, where she started work on developing a real-time PCR assay to genotype species of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. Her MSc research focused on the identification of novel cytokine biomarkers for tuberculosis detection in African elephants (Loxodonta africana) and development of a gene expression assay. She graduated in March 2021.
Kat Smith completed a BSc degree in Molecular biology and a BSc honours degree in Microbiology at Stellenbosch University. Her MSc focused on evaluation and validation of cell-mediated immunological responses for the improved detection of Mycobacterium bovis infection in African buffaloes (Syncerus caffer). Kat graduated in December 2020.
Samantha Goldswain completed her BSc in Molecular Biology, majoring in genetics and microbiology, at Stellenbosch University, and BSc honours in genetics at the University of Pretoria. She joined the Animal TB group in 2019 for her MSc which focused on using histological scoring and immunohistochemistry to characterize lung granulomas caused by Mycobacterium bovis in African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) tissue samples. Sam graduated in March 2021.
Sune Mostert completed her BSc (Hons) degree with the Animal TB research group in 2019. Her project focussed on the characterization of the temporal response of cytokine gene expression and protein release in African Buffaloes (Syncerus caffer).
Netanya Bernitz did her MSc at the University of Cape Town working on HIV-1 subtype C transmission. She then worked as a Molecular Biology Product Specialist before beginning her PhD in the Animal TB group. Her project aims to characterize the in vitro cell-mediated immune response of cattle and buffaloes in order to discover novel approaches to the diagnosis of Mycobacterium bovis infection. Orcid: 0000-0003-1199-7005.
Sedzani Ndou completed her BSc (Hons) degree with the Animal TB research group in 2018. Her project focused on the investigation of RNA stabilization techniques in wildlife and domestic animal species. For her MSc, she joined the Immunology group and is under the supervision of Prof Novel Chegou.
Leeré Scott majored in Biochemistry and Microbiology for her BSc in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at Stellenbosch University, where
after she completed her BSc (Hons) degree with the Animal TB research group. Her Honours project focused on characterizing CXCL10 gene expression and IP-10 protein production in unstimulated whole blood from cows. For her MSc, she joined the TB Genomics research group and her project will be focusing on the investigation of specifically engineered Rv0678resistant associated variants, and their effect on the minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of anti-TB drugs. Additionally, she will be investigating how heterogeneity in Rv0678 variants impact the MIC of a specific anti-TB drug, bedaquiline (BDQ). Results may provide insight into how multidrug resistance of Mycobacterium tuberculosis is influenced by Rv0678variants and how that may affect TB treatment outcomes and regimens.
Eduard Roos joined the Animal TB Research Group for his MSc in 2015. His MSc project looked at developing novel diagnostic assays for detecting warthogs with Mycobacterium bovis, the bacteria that causes TB in animals, infections. During 2016 he successfully upgraded his MSc project to a PhD, where he further investigated the humoral and cell-mediated immune response of warthogs in order to develop and evaluate a range of diagnostic assays for this species. He was also able to genetically characterise M. bovis isolates obtained from warthogs. These showed great diversity in some of the warthog populations and newer molecular techniques such as whole genome sequencing were able to distinguish between seemingly similar strains. Eduard completed his PhD in 2018 and obtained a position as a Postdoctoral Scientist at The Pirbright Institute. He will be developing and evaluating the utility of novel immune reagents for the Immunological Toolbox. The project aims to remove barriers to veterinary vaccine research. Orcid: 0000- 0002-3679-4995
Taime Sylvester joined the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Stellenbosch University in 2014 when she started her PhD in Molecular Biology, focusing on characterizing the immune response of African lions to Mycobacterium bovis infection. Before joining Stellenbosch University she did her undergraduate training in Biomedical Technology at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Here she also completed her Masters in Biomedical Technology, focusing on evaluating the cardioprotection of kolaviron in ischemia-reperfusion. In 2018, Taime joined the TB Genomics research group as a post-doctoral fellow, where she aims to investigate the molecular epidemiology of tuberculosis in Namibia.
Roxanne Higgitt joined the Animal TB Research Group for her Honour's degree in 2015. During this year, she developed qPCR assays to detect upregulation of IFN-γ and CXCL genes in spotted hyenas exposed to Mycobacterium bovis. She continued with the group as a Master's candidate, during which she investigated M. bovis infection is another African carnivore, the African wild dog. During her degree, she developed an IFN-γ release assay (IGRA) to detect immune sensitisation to M. bovis in wild dogs. Using this assay, she estimated the IGRA prevalence of M. bovis in the Kruger National Park wild dog population and culture-confirmed M. bovis infection in this population.
Manana Dlangalala completed her Honour's studies in Molecular Biology by writing a literature review entitled “Measurement of viral load in Lentivirus infections" and conducting research resulting in her thesis “Development of a reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction assay for feline immunodeficiency virus of African lions (Panthera leo)". Manana is planning to continue her MSc at the University of Pretoria in 2018.
Yessica Fitzermann graduated from the Animal TB Group with her MSc entitled: “Genomic characterisation of Mycobacterium mungi, the dassie bacillus, and Mycobacterium suricattae" in December 2017. This project investigated the relationship of these animal-adapted members of the M. tuberculosis complex and resulted in the development of a phylogenetic tree including new isolates from her study. Yessica has returned to her home in Germany but hopes to return to South Africa in the near future.
Ross McFadyen completed his BSc (HonsMedSc) and MSc in Molecular Biology with the Animal TB Group in 2015. His thesis was titled "Immunological tools for the characterization of the humoral immune response to Mycobacterium bovis infection in African buffaloes (Syncerus caffer)".
Ig Viljoen worked as a volunteer at the Wildlife Biological Resource Centre before doing a BSc in Zoology and Biochemistry and his BSc (Hons) and MSc in Conservation Biology at North-West University. His PhD project investigates the effects of M. bovis infection on the energy metabolism, immune and reproductive systems of lions.